Save Our Schools and Community was invited to present at Think!Fest 2012 during the annual National Arts Festival held in the city of Grahamstown.
We put forward some of our original community-informed insights on the culture of education and status of teaching in South Africa.
Report by Cue Online:
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Local voices at Think!Fest
To celebrate Grahamstown’s 200th anniversary, Think!Fest is hosting a series of lectures entitled Grahamstown Voices.
The series comprises stories by locals who reflect on the history of the city. “Is it not better to have people who live here to talk about the history from a personal perspective?” asked Think!Fest organiser Professor Anthea Garman. “However, we also need to take cognisance of the fact that we live with problems of the past,” she said.
Nomalanga Mkhize, renowned for her unfailing support of education as an agent of social change, kicked off the series yesterday. In 2008, she started ‘Save our Schools and Community’, an organisation that aims to tackle the inequalities of Grahamstown’s education system. “To me it’s not activism. I need my children to grow up in a healthy space they deserve,” she said.
In her talk Where the Ghost of Biko Does Not Haunt, Mkhize focussed on the fact that there has been a dramatic decline in the quality of education in the townships, partly because in her opinion there is no longer consensus about the importance of education within black society.
Mkhize argued there is a need to shift the discourse around education and ask different questions. “Class is one dimension of education that is missing in education analysis,” she said. She argued that the quality of teaching in Grahamstown has declined as many teachers opted for jobs in the civil service in order to improve their socio-economic status. “Teaching is not lucrative anymore and teacher unionisation these days is more about the class advancement of teachers,” she said.
Other speakers at Grahamstown Voices include Alan Weyer and Brian Mullins, the central characters of the Eastern Cape comedy duo Boet ’n Swaer, Ashwell Adriaan and Dr Julia Wells.